Doctors Pushing Back Against New Mammogram Guidelines


The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is out with its final recommendations on mammograms.

The group recommends women at average risk start screening every other year at age 50 and then stop screening after age 74.

Breast health experts here in Central Ohio are critical of these guidelines and are pushing back.

"My initial gut reaction is that I see so many patients that are young women in their 40's that have small breast cancers that are found on screening mammography that it kind of takes my breath away and it hurts me," Dr. Mark Cripe said.

Dr. Cripe of OhioHealth says the guidelines go against what he believes as a practicing breast surgeon.

"We have the preventive health services that stays start at 50, we have the American Cancer Society saying for the average risk patient start at age 45 and organizations I represent and believe in saying start at 40 so there's a lot of confusion,” he said.

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Dr. Amy Kerger of The James points to the task force concern that screening can lead to over-diagnosis and false positives ignores the purpose of mammograms.

"I think that if these guidelines are put into place you'll find thousands more women each year in the United States losing their life to breast cancer and thousand more undergoing more aggressive and extensive treatments,” she said. “We find that women do get breast cancer starting at the age of 40, which is when breast cancer starts to pick up with age and with time."

Specialists are also in agreement the updated recommendations raise concerns about insurance coverage.

Mt. Carmel's Dr. Roxanne Grawe says she worries insurers will deny claims.

“I think they're going to stop paying for some of those screening mammograms that are before these new recommended ages and then it will take us as doctors to fight by writing letters and talking to them,” Dr. Grawe said.

All three doctors said they plan to continue advising patients to get screened at the age of 40.  Komen is concerned too and urging that women and their doctors be the final decision makers.